Bill Murray

Right from the very beginning, homeowners who live in HOAs have been told the Declaration is a contract and the relationship between owner and association is a contractual one.  The very word “contract” seemed to be sufficient explanation for all the bizarre, nutty, abusive, ridiculous, sad and tragic occurrences in associations across the country.  Your dog’s too fat?  It’s a contract.  Your mini blinds are the wrong shade of white?  It’s a contract.  Your vehicle is not snazzy enough?  It’s a contract.  You owe the HOA money?  Too bad, you lose your house, it’s a contract.   No matter how absurd the situation, the answer always was “It’s a contract.” and the advice, “If you don’t like it, MOVE.”  The only input the owners could have once they were trapped in an HOA, was to amend the “contract” by an affirmative vote of a super majority of the owners.  If you are going to stick people in HOAs by virtue of local municipal mandates and lack of choice, I suppose it makes sense to allow the principals to vote on the changes.  But are all proposed changes good for the individual owner?  And what happens if the owners decide they really don’t want to amend the governing docs.?
 
On The Commons this week we are joined by Bill Murray.  Bill is one of 32 plaintiffs in the Bemis vs. Lake Holiday Country Club case and along with his brother maintains a blog http://www.lakeholidaynews.com/ .  This case appears to have inspired the Virginia legislature to consider a bill that would give the courts the statutory authority to amend docs even after the homeowners themselves chose not to approve the amendment.  The bill was struck earlier this week in Virginia but may be headed to a state house near you.  Please join us On The Commons.   We’ll get to understand the makeup of Lake Holiday and talk about the particulars of the Bemis case.  We’ll also discuss SB 6016 and SB 1489, how close they came to becoming the law, what it would have done to the Bemis case, what it could have done to what’s left of your property rights and we’ll find out whether any other sinister plans are lurking in the shadows, waiting to knock your contractual rights off their feet.

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Don Schellhardt

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, in a land called America, the citizens were free.  They adopted a set of rules, guaranteeing that the freedoms the founders fought for would last through the ages and be passed on from generation to generation. To ensure that their grandchildren and their grandchildren’s grandchildren  would remain free, they wrote the Bill of Rights.  These rights included such basic things as the freedom of religion, speech, assembly, to be secure in their homes,  be deprived of life, liberty and property without due process of the law, be subject to excessive fines.  And the concept worked – for awhile. 
 
And then the government gave the citizens home and condo associations and told them the associations would protect their property values and once the owners were drawn in they started losing the rights their forefathers fought so hard to give them.  But a few of the owners have decided to fight back and reclaim their rights as free citizens.  But how does one turn back the clock to the days when free people were allowed to be free?  Will they be able to get together, celebrate the holidays, decorate their homes and worship and communicate with each other? 
 
On The Commons this week we are joined by Don Schellhardt.  Don is the founder and president of www.hfagroup.net .  He is an attorney and a HAM as well.  Because of the restrictions on antennas by HOAs and condos, many HAM operators are finding that they not only cannot enjoy their hobby but also are not able to provide certain protections to their communities.  So Don and his fellow HAMs tried to get the FCC involved but they said “No Thanks” so Don approached CAI and asked if they could come to some understanding, perhaps encouraging some HOAs to allow antennas.  The two members of CAI agreed and posted an article on CAI’s web page.  The article is very difficult to find and attempts to access it prior to the show failed.  I have since found it  and hope this link works for you.  http://www.caionline.org/govt/news/Political%20HeadsUp%20Public%20Document%20Library/ham_radio.pdf  Please join us On The Commons.   We’ll learn more about HAMS and what they provide the community.  We’ll learn about antennas and also why we should ALL support allowing HAM antennas in HOAs. 

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April Charney

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation.
 
Foreclosures are everywhere.  Drive through any neighborhood and chances are you will see signs of vacant houses, “For Sale” signs with “Bank owned” riders,  homes noticeably neglected and abandoned.  The newspapers and other media outlets report on the sheer number of homes that are being foreclosed on.  The news on the economy is equally dire.  What on earth is going on?  Is there a connection between the economy and all the foreclosures?

On The Commons this week we are joined by April Charney.  April, described as the angel of foreclosure defense by MSNBC and awesome by some of her clients, is a Jackson Area Legal Aid attorney in Florida who has earned the reputation of being the leading expert on foreclosures.  She speaks at seminars across the country and trains attorneys to defend homeowners.  She is a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates www.naca.net and was named National Consumer Lawyer of the year in 2007.  Please join us On The Commons this Saturday, January 17, 2009.   We’ll talk to April and  try to demystify what is happening.  We’ll also find out  what we should do as individuals, and as communities, to protect ourselves and where to find a competent attorney to represent us should we need one.  You don’t want to miss this one. 

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Jan Bergmann

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation.
 
There is a mistaken belief that a homeowner’s association will enhance and protect property values.  This little lie has been repeated over and over again since the early days when housing consumers were first being led to HOAs like lambs to the slaughter house.  Yet Americans cling to the notion that their property values will be protected from unapproved hoses, red doors and cars up on blocks.  What will it take to dispel this myth?  Will homeowners ever realize that their property values could be adversely affected by the HOA? 
 
On The Commons this week we are joined by Jan Bergemann.  Jan, president of the Florida based Cyber Citizens for Justice www.ccfj.net , has been very active with Florida’s thousands of condo and HOA owners.  CCFJ has hosted Town Hall meetings, put on seminars, attended hearings organized by state legislators, conducted their own survey and worked with all the pro owner groups and individuals.  Because Jan also fields a number of calls from owners as well as reporters. he has his finger on the pulse of the latest issues and hot buttons.  Please join us On The Commons.   We’ll find out what happened at the latest Town Hall meeting they had and talk about just how well values are holding up in the current times. 

 

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Pia Trigiani

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation.
 
It is ironic that HOAs were created to give municipal governments a means of shunting off their responsibilities onto the private sector, while still collecting those precious tax dollars.   And now, some four decades into this experiment, more bureaucracy is being created to supposedly control them.  With time, and the belief that you can’t fight City Hall, HOAs have become a prominent part of the American housing landscape.  But all is still not well in home and condo associations.  The problems mount and the complaints are too loud to ignore so state legislators grapple with ways of dealing with the many problems with them.  Unfortunately, attempts thus far to tame the beast have failed.  Is there a magic pill or a potion that will protect the rights of the individuals in HOAs?  Should there be more oversight or should we be framing the debate around whether or not this is a viable form of housing and if so, are they worth the added expenses?
 
On The Commons this week we are joined by Pia Trigiani.  Pia, a principal with the newly established law firm, MercerTrigiani has been named Chair of the newly formed Common Interest Community Board in Virginia.  This board was established in July to oversee management, promulgate more rules and provide some “help” to the homeowners.   Please join us On The Commons this Saturday, December 20, 2008.  We’ll find out more about the CICB, who sits on the Board and just what kind of help Virginia’s association homeowners can expect to get, and probably more importantly NOT get from them. 
 
Since law makers across the country seem to be totally clueless as to how to handle the growing problems in HOAs and the homeowners are never asked for their ideas of what should be done, we are soliciting your input.  How should we handle the growing problems in HOAs?  Send your thoughts to onthecommons@cox.net

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Evan McKenzie

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation. 
 
Almost four decades ago residential America began to change.  No longer were Americans living in their own castles but instead, at the end of the day, found themselves going home to neighborhoods where the neighbors made all the decisions.  This brave new blueprint for our communities was to deliver lifestyles beyond the reaches and wildest dreams of most Americans.  Homeowners in these newfangled developments would have access to sparkling pools, tennis courts, hiking trails, golf courses, bridle paths, ponds, lakes and yes, even gazebos.  The cost?  A few dollars a month.  But wait, there is more.  In addition, these new experimental developments promised to not only protect property values but enhance them as well.  And the cost?  A few dollars a month ……. and complete control of that property. 
 
Has this new experiment delivered everything it promised?  Are American homeowners happier and better off today than they were before HOAs became the norm rather than the exception??
 
On The Commons this week we welcome back Professor Evan McKenzie.  Evan is the author of the best selling book Privatopia: Homeowner Associations and the Rise of Residential Private Government.  He teaches Political Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Common Interest Community Law at the John Marshall School of Law.  Evan is also a practicing attorney and maintains an active blog at http://privatopia.blogspot.com/ .   Please join us On The Commons.  We’ll skip all the usual pudgy pooch, dusty mailbox horror stories that seem to grab the headlines and go right to the heart of what is happening in today’s climate of economic uncertainty.  Are condo and homeowner associations surviving and just how secure are America’s 60 million HOA owners?  As a keen observer of associations, politics and current events, Evan puts HOAs right in the middle of the big picture.  You won’t want to miss this one. 

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Houston Conference – Part 3

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation.

From the very beginning, homeowners associations have had problems – and the unfettered power their boards and managers have been given have cause untold problems for the homeowners. The first “solution” was to “educate all involved” but over the past three decades that education has only exacerbated the problems. Then it was thought that “disclosure” would serve to warn consumers about what they were getting before they bought that controlled unit they had their eyes on, but that turned out to be nothing more than a lot of hot air and in fact put the owners in a more precarious position than they had been before they were warned. When the legislature got involved, they only mucked things up even more which gave the judicial system the perfect dodge – the “business judgment” rule, leaving the owners a lot poorer and in worse shape than they had been in before they went to the court house. So what is left? Where can homeowners turn for help in protecting their property rights and their greatest asset?

On The Commons this week we check back in with the folks in Houston In October the homeowners from all corners of Texas gathered for an intense session on identifying the problems in homeowners associations and prioritizing the ones they wanted to concentrate on first. In this broadcast you will hear Bill Davis talk about some of the issues he and his neighbors have been dealing with. We’ll also hear from Gwen Gates explaining 990’s and Shu talking about The 3 P’s. Please join us On The Commons We’ll listen in on three more “speeches” given at the conference in Houston.

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Houston Conference Part 2

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation. 
 
From the very beginning, homeowners associations have had problems – and the unfettered power their boards and managers have been given have cause untold problems for the homeowners.  The first “solution” was to “educate all involved” but over the past three decades that education has only exacerbated the problems.  Then it was thought that “disclosure” would serve to warn consumers about what they were getting before they bought that controlled unit they had their eyes on, but that turned out to be nothing more than a lot of hot air and in fact put the owners in a more precarious position than they had been before they were warned.  When the legislature got involved, they only mucked things up even more which gave the judicial system the perfect dodge – the “business judgment” rule, leaving the owners a lot poorer and in worse shape than they had been in before they went to the court house.  So what is left?  Where can homeowners turn for help in protecting their property rights and their greatest asset?
 
On The Commons this week we check back in with the folks in Houston  In October the homeowners from all corners of Texas gathered for an intense session on identifying the problems in homeowners associations and prioritizing the ones they wanted to concentrate on first.  In this broadcast you will hear David Kahne go through more of the list of over 20 problems, talk about them and explain the options they had.  You will also hear Bob Adolph, a member of the Adolph family who have spent countless hours tracking the foreclosure filings by homeowners associations in Harris County and posting the information on their web page, www.hoadata.org .  Please join us On The Commons.  We’ll listen in as the homeowners share  their problems and talk about possible solutions.  We’ll also get an update on the foreclosure activity for the last several years and find out just who has been filing all these foreclosures.

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Mari Parlade

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation. 
 
You can’t paint a pretty picture on a dirty canvas anymore than you can build a community on a foundation of corruption.  Yet beneath the thin veneer of outwardly pristine neighborhoods, where every blade of grass is of a uniform length and color, lies the structure that makes it possible to chip away at the very heart of what these developments are supposed to represent.  Stories of embezzlement, once quietly hidden, now grab the headlines, along with tales of election fraud, bully tactics, fines, foreclosures and all the other horrors that have become a part of daily life for so many American unit owners. 
 
But finally someone started asking the tough questions and now the FBI is investigating the way some HOAs and condos do business in Las Vegas, Nevada.  While it appears that the focus of the investigation at this time is limited to construction defect litigation and election rigging, is there more that is contributing to the demise of our neighborhoods?  Should the FBI expand the scope of their investigation to include other areas of possible fraud?
 
On The Commons this week we are joined by Mari Parlade. Mari, an attorney with a huge heart in Las Vegas,  is one of a handful of attorneys who represents homeowners in cases against their associations.  Mari has been on the receiving end of threats by association attorneys, has had bar complaints filed against her and has otherwise seen, first hand, what it is like to be in the cross hairs of those who run residential America.  In the process of fighting to protect her clients’ homes and fighting for her career, she discovered yet another giant scam sucking the life out of communities and money out of owners’ pockets  Please join us On The Commons this Saturday, November 1, 2008.  We’ll hear her story and talk about another huge problem in HOAs that needs to be investigated.  You will want to hear this one.

 

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David Kahne

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation.
 
Residential America is anything but a peaceful, quiet, safe haven for American homeowners who live in one of over 300,000 mandatory membership homeowner associations nationwide.  Empowering boards and HOA professionals to run the homes and lives of all who live within the boundaries of the association has created problems.  How do individual homeowners protect their rights and their property from the abuses of those in power?  Is the answer always to go to court?  Are there other ways of returning some semblance of fairness to our neighborhoods?
 
On The Commons this week we are joined by David Kahne.  David, a Houston, Texas attorney is one of the few attorneys who will represent homeowners in a case against their homeowner associations.  David is experienced and knowledgeable about HOA law and understands perfectly well how lopsided and frustrating it can be to be in the crosshairs of the powers that be in HOAs.  Please join us On The Commons  We’ll talk a little about the Houston conference and also about two homeowners who fought the (HOA) law and won. 

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News and Views About Homeowner Associations